Istanbul has a mind boggling number of mosques. Perhaps the two most important are Hagia Sophia and Sultan Ahmet Mosque (the Blue Mosque).
I had promised Jude I would not go into the Blue Mosque before she arrived. But I thought I would visit Hagia Sophia this morning. This was first a Greek Orthodox Church, then a mosque and now a museum
Well, that was my plan. But my start was too leisurely and I found a queue – including hundreds of school children – snaking round the square.
So instead I decided to stroll around, drinking in the splendour of this amazing park. At first it was the splendour of the gigantic, red walled Hagia Sophia that took my breath away.
Then I reluctantly turned away from it – and was seduced by the white shimmering domed roof and six delicate tall minarets of the Blue Mosque, beckoning from the other end of the long esplanade.
i was not the only one captivated apart from the inevitable Japanese and Korean tourists, most admiring these monuments appeared to me to be Turkish. But when I offered to take a photo of a young girl with her mother and aunt, it turned out that they were from Algeria. It was the girl’s first visit, but the two older women had been to Istanbul several times why, I asked, had they perhaps family here? No, they loved the beauty of the place and it’s central role in world history.
I walked on, to the esplanade beside the Blue Mosque, with further monuments and buildings I was particularly taken with a large red building with remarkably few windows.
This turned out to be the early 16th Ibrahim Pasha Palace. (Ibrahim Pasha and the Sultan had been best friends, but Ibrahim got complacent, had grandiose ideas (like the building of this palace) and the Sultan ordered his execution.
Then time to get back to my hotel and checkout before going to meet Jude and family